The Department of Health is the victim of a cyberattack, similar to the one that struck the Health Service Executive on Friday.
The Irish Times reports that the first signs of the attack emerged late last week but became more obvious on Saturday, when the Department's systems closed as a precaution.
Garda sources said it is strongly suspected the same criminal gang involved in the ransomware attack on the HSE is also behind the attack on the Department.
Garda sources said the attack appeared to be financially motivated and, like the HSE attack, appeared to be from a gang using ransomware to encrypt files until a ransom was paid.
In a statement, the Department of Health said it “can confirm that late last week it was subject to a ransomware attack similar to the attack on the HSE. Since Thursday we have been working to respond to this incident.
“We continue to work closely with all relevant authorities, including the National Cyber Security Centre, Garda Síochána and the HSE. We continue to assess the impact across all our systems and our focus is on protecting our data.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the HSE had set up a “war room” to handle the cyberattack across its IT systems.
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme, he said: “We are taking all the international advice we can.”
Pressed about whether the State would pay a ransom, Mr Coveney said there were real consequences to paying ransoms to criminals. He said it was his understanding that “we’re not speaking to criminals, but [we are] speaking to many people who are used to dealing with criminals”.
Our system has been very significantly compromised across the board
Meanwhile on Sunday, the HSE remains in the process of contacting thousands of patients to reschedule appointments following Friday's attack on its IT systems.
Efforts are continuing to identify the extent of the attack, and if personal patient data has been stolen.
HSE chief operations officer, Anne O'Connor, told Newstalk radio that work has begun on rebuilding the health service’s systems.
“We have found that we do have some clean back-up data available to be able to rebuild our servers from, however, we have thousands upon thousands of virtual servers, so each server is going to have to be rebuilt and brought back up individually so it’s going to be a slow process,” she said.
“Our system has been very significantly compromised across the board.”
Thousands of patients are facing cancelled appointments and delays to health services, as the HSE works to bring its IT systems back online “in a safe manner one by one” following their precautionary shut down on Friday amid the cyberattack.
All outpatient and radiology services are impacted, although chemotherapy, dialysis services and the State's Covid-19 vaccination programme are continuing as normal.
Systems for GP and close-contact Covid-19 test referrals were among the services affected by the attack, although pre-arranged appointments are going ahead this weekend as planned.
No new daily Covid figures were released on Saturday due to the disruption caused by the attack.